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Disabled Boy Kicked Out of School for Lack of Vaccination

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Ali and Orooba Hamideh’s disabled 9-year-old son, Ameer, lost his vaccine exemption after the passage of New York’s Senate Bill S2994A in June 2019, which removed all non-medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements
  • Ameer was born prematurely and suffered a stroke at birth. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3, and has a rare seizure disorder called Lennox Gastaut syndrome
  • Ameer’s seizures began after his first round of vaccines at 5 months of age. His parents, who attributed the seizures to the complications at his birth, dutifully followed the recommended vaccine schedule. It wasn’t until he got a flu shot at the age of 2 that they started asking questions
  • After getting a medical exemption from his neurologist, Ameer was again denied school access after the New York Department of Health denied the exemption, stating his seizure condition was not a contraindication to vaccination
  • The Hamideh family sued the school, and November 12, 2019, the Erie County Supreme Court judge presiding over the case issued a temporary restraining order to allow Ameer to attend his classes at the CHC Learning Center for the duration of the court proceedings. The case is still ongoing

The global vaccine market was valued at $35.8 billion in 2018, and it’s predicted to nearly double by 2024.1,2 One major reason for this exponential growth has to do with the fact that more vaccines are being mandated as a condition for school attendance, while vaccine exemptions are being eliminated.3

After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011, vaccine manufacturers are also the only corporations selling products in the U.S. that cannot be sued, even when there is evidence the company could have made a product safer.4,5

After Congress amended the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act at the end of 1987, doctors and medical workers who administer federally recommended vaccines that injure or kill children can’t be sued either.6 In 2016, Congress expanded vaccine manufacturer liability protection to include federally recommended vaccines that injure or kill pregnant women or their unborn infants in the womb.7

This blanket protection from liability is part and parcel of what makes vaccines so profitable — and potentially hazardous.

Making matters worse, state legislatures in California8 and New York9 have passed laws that remove the legal right for doctors to exercise professional judgment and conscience when granting children a medical exemption to vaccination.10,11,12

A recent case highlighted by The Highwire demonstrates just how difficult it has become to obtain a vaccine exemption — even when a child’s life is clearly at high risk for suffering harm from vaccination — and the disastrous ramifications it can have for families whose children are denied school access simply because they’re not willing to roll the dice when it comes to protecting their child from harm.

Vaccination Laws Sacrifice the Vulnerable

In the video above, Del Bigtree, CEO of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), a nonprofit he founded in 2017, interviews Ali and Orooba Hamideh, who live in New York. Their disabled 9-year-old son, Ameer, lost his vaccine exemption after the passage of New York’s Senate bill S2994A13 in June 2019, which removed all non-medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements.14

Weeks later, the New York health department issued a new rule that denied New York physicians the legal right to grant a child a medical exemption to vaccination unless the reasons given strictly conform to vaccine contraindications approved by public health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).15,16

Ameer was born prematurely and suffered a stroke at birth. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3, thought to be the result of the brain damage he suffered from his stroke. Ameer also has a rare seizure disorder called Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS17).

His seizures began after his first round of vaccines at 5 months of age. His parents, who attributed the seizures to the complications at his birth, dutifully followed the recommended vaccine schedule. It wasn’t until he got a flu shot at the age of 2 that they started asking questions.

As with previous vaccines, his seizures and other symptoms worsened directly after the shot. After researching the matter, and finding others whose stories mirrored their own, they decided to not give Ameer any more vaccines.

They opted to file a religious vaccine exemption for Ameer, simply because it was easier, but the new law meant Ameer could no longer attend school, and he ended up missing months of education and therapy over the summer while his parents turned to Ameer’s neurologist, who has treated him for nine years. She issued a medical exemption, stating:

“Patient carries a diagnosis of Lennox Gastaut with refractory seizures. Patient has a history of hospitalization following immunizations in the past for seizure activity triggered by those immunizations.”

Seizure Disorder Not a Valid Contraindication to Vaccination

With the medical exemption in place, Ameer was allowed back to school. But then, September 12, 2019, the Hamidehs received a copy of a letter from the New York Department of Health sent to Ameer’s school, recommending his medical exemption should be denied. Dr. Elizabeth Rausch-Phung, director of the New York Bureau of Immunization, wrote:

“I have reviewed the documentation submitted by Sarah Finnegan, MD with regard to the medical exemption request for the student in your school …

Lennox Gastaut with refractory seizures is not a valid contraindication to this student receiving MMR, varicella, polio, or Tdap vaccines pursuant to Public Health Law (PHL) 2164 and the accompanying regulations at 10 NYCRR Subpart 66-1. Therefore, I recommend against accepting this medical exemption.”

Ameer was again kicked out, for while the health department didn’t forbid the school to accept the exemption, the school refused to go against the health department’s recommendation, saying it would be “foolish” of them to do so.

“You feel awful,” Ali says. “You have no choice over your child. No choice at all.” Seizure disorders are serious medical conditions, and Ameer’s parents fear that any additional vaccines could cause uncontrolled seizure activity leading to his death.

Since the family started him on a ketogenic diet and CBD oil, Ameer has gone from 20 to 30 seizures a day to none. He’s making progress that simply isn’t worth risking. Yet, as noted by Bigtree, New York state essentially delivered a potential death sentence to this child — all because he’s missing his fifth Tdap booster.

Justice for Ameer — For Now

In desperation, Ali vented his frustration on Facebook, asking for help. The story went viral, being shared more than 100,000 times, eventually making headlines on local news.

As noted by Bigtree, one of the official justifications for removing non-medical vaccine exemptions and mandating certain vaccines is to protect immunocompromised children who cannot be vaccinated.

Yet here we have a child whose history clearly shows he is at grave risk for vaccine damage, whose neurologist agrees vaccination could compromise his health and worsen his already serious condition, and he’s somehow not worthy of that same protection.

Ameer, by the way, is not an isolated case — 26,000 children in New York lost their rights to public education with the passing of S2994A.18

In The Highwire video above, the Hamidehs mention they would take legal action if the school did not allow Ameer back in. Since the airing of that episode, Ameer’s case has been brought to court, resulting in a temporary legal victory.

November 12, 2019, the Erie County Supreme Court judge presiding over the case issued a temporary restraining order to allow Ameer to attend his classes at the CHC Learning Center for the duration of the court proceedings.19 But first, Ali had to present to the court a signed affidavit from the neurologist, confirming the signature on the medical exemption wasn’t a fraudulent one.

This request was so out of the ordinary and the neurologist was so surprised and confused by the request that she initially refused. Fortunately, by the time Ali and his attorney reached the court house, she’d emailed them the signed affidavit. No school representative from the school or state education department attended the hearing. The case goes back to court in December. As reported in an ICAN press release:20

“Because of Ameer's previous severe reaction to the DTaP vaccine — most recently a grand mal seizure that sent him, uncontrollably screaming, to the hospital — his parents Ali and Orooba Hamideh followed the advice of Ameer's physician to not give him an additional dose.

ICAN took up the family's cause and turned its team of attorneys to the case, which pointed out — among other things — New York state law allows any doctor to provide a valid medical exemption, and does not provide the Department of Health the authority to overrule that exemption.

‘This is so satisfying because of what it means for the Hamideh family,’ says Del Bigtree … ‘The State thought they could steamroll the Hamideh family. Their bureaucratic decision regarding Ameer's medical treatment, made without ever even talking to his doctor, could have seriously injured him.’" 

‘Nothing Is Working the Way It’s Supposed To’

At the end of the November 12, 2019, video update above, Bigtree says:

“I will tell you my experience today, in watching how the courts were dealing with this issue, and watching the hoops having to be jumped through that lawyers don’t normally see in any other case … — doctors being forced to sign [an affidavit confirming] their own signature — this is just a bizarre world we are living in right now.

And it’s extremely distressing that in almost every department of our government … nothing is acting or working the way it’s supposed to work. This is not how our system is designed. This vaccine issue is putting everything on tilt. There’s something really wrong here.”

As for how it will all end, only time will tell, but for now, Ameer is allowed to receive the therapy and education he needs and deserves. But what about the tens of thousands of other children in New York and around the nation who have been ruthlessly stripped of their right to a public education?

Some families are making plans to move out of the state because their children are already vaccine injured or have brain and immune system disorders that do not qualify for medical exemptions under narrow federal vaccine use guidelines.

Others say they will quit their jobs and move in order to avoid having to vaccinate their unvaccinated children. One such couple, featured in an August 29, 2019, article21 on Syracuse.com, stopped vaccinating their children after their eldest son developed autoimmune encephalitis after getting the HPV vaccine and was hospitalized for 31 days.

Like the Hamidehs and so many others, this family does not consider themselves “anti-vaxxers” but “ex-vaxxers.” They’ve “been there, done that,” and realized the risks were real and very serious, and weren’t worth taking.

Approved Vaccine Contraindications Are Almost Nonexistent

The fact that a serious seizure disorder isn’t a valid contraindication for vaccination should set off warning bells, especially since febrile seizures is a possible side effect of most vaccines.

Ameer’s case clearly demonstrates just how dangerously narrow the vaccine contraindications really are, and how it’s nearly impossible to get a medical exemption under the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) rules.

Vaccine contraindications are the health conditions ACIP agrees are valid reasons for not getting vaccinated. The problem is, under ACIP guidelines, there’s virtually no health condition or vaccine reaction history that is an absolute contraindication to vaccination, and this is what your doctor has been taught to believe as well.22

For example, ACIP tells doctors that pregnancy or severe immunodeficiency are contraindications to getting live virus vaccines like MMR and varicella zoster — but inactivated vaccines are not an absolute contraindication for either of these groups.23

This is a very important point, because we’re often told that ACIP-recommended vaccines must be mandated for children in order to protect pregnant women and the severely immune compromised24,25 who cannot be vaccinated. Yet clearly, this is not true.

According to the CDC’s ACIP, there are only two types of vaccine reactions that are absolute contraindications to getting revaccinated and thus warrant a medical exemption:26

  1. A life-threatening allergic anaphylactic reaction that occurs within minutes of vaccination.
  2. Development of encephalopathy, such as prolonged seizures, coma and other brain dysfunction, within seven days of receiving pertussis-containing vaccines — but only if the doctor believes the encephalopathy is “not attributable to another cause.”

Vaccine Precautions, Another Short List

The CDC also publishes a very short list of health conditions that warrant “precaution,” as they “might increase the risk of a serious adverse reaction, cause diagnostic confusion, or might compromise the ability of the vaccine to produce immunity.”27

Only one CDC-approved universal precaution applies to all vaccines: Having a “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.” But this is not a total contraindication, which means a doctor could still decide to vaccinate an acutely and severely ill patient, as it’s up to his or her discretion what “moderate or severe acute illness” is.

The CDC also recommends that hospitalized patients should be vaccinated as long as they’re “not acutely, moderately or severely ill” — as if hospitals are filled with people who are only mildly ill from chronic conditions.

The core message the CDC sends to doctors is that 99% of the U.S. population are candidates for vaccination 100% of the time.28 It’s not surprising then that most doctors, pharmacists and other vaccine providers — who cannot be sued if a vaccine injures or kills — simply ignore any listed precautions.

What Role Have Conflicts of Interest Played?

At the end of the day, what all of this means is that most vaccine damaged children have no chance of getting approved for a medical exemption, and are forced to play Russian Roulette with their lives if they want a public education. It really shouldn’t be this way.

It’s wrong. And it’s so clearly wrong that it’s not hard to understand why people like the Hamidehs conclude that it’s really all about making a profit at any cost, even if the cost is the life of a child. Indeed, evidence of financial conflicts of interest are all around.

A U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigation published in 2000 found serious conflicts of interest between the pharmaceutical industry and voting members of two of the most important federal vaccine advisory committees in the U.S:29,30

  • The ACIP, which reviews and votes on the quality of scientific evidence used to make national vaccine policy
  • The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which reviews and votes on the quality of scientific evidence used to license new vaccines

Yet, to this day, government-appointed members of both ACIP and FDA vaccine advisory committees can receive conflict of interest waivers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which allows them to vote on the licensing of vaccines and make national vaccine policy that is turned into public health law.31,32,33,34

We Are Not All the Same

Emerging science reveals we are not all the same and do not respond the same way to infectious diseases or vaccines. Responses to infectious diseases and the risk for complications can vary depending upon genes, environment, age and health at the time of infection.35,36

That is why malnourished, vitamin-deficient children living in poverty, for example, are at higher risk for complications from measles and other infections.37,38,39

Your risk of having a vaccine reaction can also range from zero to 100%. It again depends on genetic influences, your epigenetic history, microbiome, environmental factors, your age and current state of health, the type and number of vaccines you get, and how much time has elapsed between them if you’re getting more than one.40,41,42,43

Research has also confirmed that vaccinated individuals can still get infected with and transmit infections like measles, pertussis and influenza to other people, sometimes without showing any symptoms at all.44,45,46

With that evidence, the vaccine acquired herd immunity argument really falls apart, yet like so many other medical myths, it keeps being repeated long after its been disproven.

+ Sources and References